Three Important Questions to Ask Before Repairing Your Old Car
The Repair/Buy New Dilemma
Every car owner at some time in his or her life must face the dilemma of whether it is smarter to have their old car repaired to the point where it is good for another 50,000 miles; or, rather than sink their hard-earned dollars into what could be a money pit, decide on buying a new car.
Just to provide rough idea of what a repair can cost, here are some of the most expensive common repair/replacement costs you can expect:
• Engine replacement: $3,000 to $10,000
• Transmission replacement: $3,500 to $5,000
• Cylinder head replacement: $3,000 to $3,500
• Suspension replacement: $2,500 to $3,500
• Catalytic converter replacement: $1,000 to $1,500
Fix It or Flip It
Referred to as the “fix it or flip it” question, a recent Carfax info sheet helps car owners reach a cost-conscious answer to the question by clearly identifying three key variables to consider. The following is a summary of their sound car finances advice that can help remove some of the confusion of whether it is better to repair your old car or sell it and buy a new one as its replacement.
Question #1. What Will Repairs Cost?
There are three ways of answering this question on whether your old heap is a diamond in the rough or just plain fools’ gold:
1. Take your car to a mechanic you trust and pay them to assess whether they believe it is a keeper after performing an inspection and expected cost analysis of what it is going to take to keep the vehicle on the road for a few more years.
2. Go to AAA’s Car Repair Estimator online site and make your own list of cost estimates for doing repairs needed on the old car. The recommendation is that after generating your list is to find a AAA-approved repair facility and make sure that your estimates match closely to what the garage would recommend.
3. For those used car owners who are pretty sure what repairs their car needs, another repair estimate can be generated online using the Carfax’s Car Care app to give you a general sense of what the repair costs will be.
Question #2. What’s the Car Worth?
When the repair cost exceeds the value of a used car, it’s generally a no-brainer that you are better off selling your old car and buying a new one---or at least a used car in better condition. However, if you are particularly attached to a particular vehicle, there can also be made a case for going ahead and spending a little above its value.
Carfax is a good source of online tools to get a fair estimate of what your used car is worth. You will need to supply your vehicle identification number (VIN) and/or license plate number to get started.
However, before going too deep into its value, you should also see what one popular mechanic has to say about finding the true value of a used car, followed by some pertinent advice from Consumer Reports on how to assess a used vehicle’s true value.
Question #3. How Much Will a New (or Used) Car Cost?
Carfax makes a good point that when weighing your choices of buying a new car over having your old car repaired, it’s not just about parts and labor that you should be concerned about, but other costs as well such as fuel, maintenance and insurance---particularly when you can expect a big bump in premiums with some models of cars.
One example to keep in mind is comparing a Toyota to a Lexus---in spite of its Toyota roots, do not expect Lexus parts to come at a Toyota price when that new or slightly used car will eventually require servicing and repairs.
Related Article: The Best Used Car Deals Mechanics Recommend Against Buying
Other Questions to Address
The above three questions are focused on value and making a cost-conscious smart buying decision. However, as Carfax also points out, there are several other pros and cons when deciding on keeping a used car over a new car such as short- and long-term considerations, safety, comfort, convenience and fulfilling your exact current driving needs; All of which can be that final deal breaker for you after working out the aforementioned costs.
For additional articles related to deciding on selling your used car or buying a new car, here are some selected informative articles on how you can make the best deal for yourself with your trade-in or selling your used car; and, what you need to know about buying into a CPO car deal.
COMING UP NEXT: Why Ford Customers Don’t Trust Ford Dealerships to Fix Their Cars
Timothy Boyer is Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.
Image courtesy of Image by Adri Marie from Pixabay